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Curr Pathobiol Rep. 2015 Jun;3(2):163-170. doi: 10.1007/s40139-015-0080-4. Epub 2015 Apr 11.

Zebrafish Models of Kidney Damage and Repair.

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Instituto de Fisiología, Biología Molecular y Neurociencias-Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Division of Nephrology, Department of Medicine, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, USA.
Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, USA.
Department of Developmental Biology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.
Center for Critical Care Nephrology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.


The vertebrate kidney possesses the capacity to repair damaged nephrons, and this potential is conserved regardless of the complexity of species-specific kidneys. However, many aquatic vertebrates possess the ability to not only repair existing nephrons, but also generate new nephrons after injury. Adult zebrafish have the ability to recover from acute renal injury not only by replacing lost injured epithelial cells of endogenous nephrons, but by also generating de novo nephrons. This strong regeneration potential, along with other unique characteristics such as the high degree of genetic conservation with humans, the ease of harvesting externally fertilized, transparent embryos, the accessibility to larval and adult kidneys, and the ability to perform whole organism phenotypic small molecule screens, has positioned zebrafish as a unique vertebrate model to study kidney injury. In this review, we provide an overview of the contribution of zebrafish larvae/adult studies to the understanding of renal regeneration, diseases, and therapeutic discovery.


Acute kidney injury; Chronic kidney disease; Polycystic kidney disease; Regeneration; Small molecule screening; Zebrafish

Conflict of interest statement

Conflict of Interest: Maria Cecilia Cirio and Neil Hukriede have no conflicts of interest. Mark de Caestecker is a consultant for Nephrogenix.

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